Sunday, July 27, 2014

All baby, all the time

We are on a verge of a baby-tastic week over here. It all kicked off Thursday night.

We started newborn care class at the hospital. I've never been in a room with so many pregnant women before. So many hormones all in one place.

We have another baby event almost every day this week.

Monday: Doctor appointment in the morning for me, and then we begin our childbirth class that night. I'm simultaneously excited for the hospital tour (not sure if that will be tomorrow, it's a five week class) and concerned that my carefully crafted denial about labor and delivery will be blown to pieces.
Tuesday: Another daycare visit
Thursday: Newborn class, part 2 of 2
Saturday: Breastfeeding class

The breastfeeding class concludes the various types of classes we are taking. Just trying to be prepared and all.

Back to the newborn class. The L&D nurse who taught it was really nice. It had some good information. They showed "The Happiest Baby on the Block" video. I'm reading the book, and I'd actually just got the email that the DVD was ready for me at the library. It was all lecture format though. I've seen pictures on blogs of people with fake babies, so I was expecting a little more hands on practice. Also, it focused a lot on the time immediately after birth. I'd personally like to know less about what will happen when I'm surrounded by trained professionals willing to assist me, and more about what the hell I do with his kid once we get home. There's still one more session next week, but that's mainly safety and infant CPR. I'm CPR certified, but I really remember very little from the class, so I'm glad to be getting a refresher.

I was left with two options to practice the baby calming techniques presented, particularly swaddling. Get a life size baby doll, or find a real baby.

As those of you in your 20s will soon find out, once you hit your 30s, there will be no shortage of babies in your life (and currently for me, they are all boys!). My BFF Carolyn had her baby boy, Nathan, in May, so I was able to trade my babysitting services for swaddling practice.

Baby burrito "success:"
Don't let his expression in the swaddle fool you, this is how he looked when I was performing the swaddle.
I've spent years in professional developments where you watch a video of how to do something. The videos always promise that if you do this thing, your class will be nothing but quiet, well behaved children who are unfailingly eager to learn. In practice, it doesn't always shake out exactly like that. As a result, I wasn't exactly shocked when swaddling a real live baby wasn't quite as easy as the DVD made it appear. While he enjoyed being swaddled, he squirmed the whole time and broke out within minutes. The third time, he stayed in the longest (maybe like 45 minutes?) and that's when I took the picture. I guess I just need more practice?

That was the first time I'd ever taken care of a baby so young. You would think that the fact that I'm about to do that full time, very soon, I wouldn't have felt nervous about it. You'd be wrong. But his parents came home to a full, burped, dry, sleeping healthy baby, so I guess we both survived.

I furthered my immersion into baby culture by attending a "Tot Swap" on Saturday. It's a GIANT consignment sale (this one took place on the state fair grounds, that's how big it was). I went to one with friends when I was 7 weeks pregnant and nearly had to leave in a strait jacket, I was so overwhelmed.

I was relieved to find out that 24 weeks later, I felt I had a good handle on baby items, or I at least recognized the majority and knew what their function was. I went for two specific items: an Exersaucer and books. My stepfather has been combing garage sales all summer for the Exersaucer - an elusive piece of baby equipment that sources say is extremely useful for a very short period, therefore worth getting, but not getting new.

Books because the teacher in me was having a panic attack that the baby is now 3 lbs (according to my apps) and we don't have a single baby book yet. 

I was successful on both counts. I snagged one of only two unclaimed Exersaucers left, for only $15. I also got an unplanned workout carrying the Exersaucer to my car.

Exersaucer (I had to take it apart a bit to fit it in the car)

What's really shocking is that I got those things, and only those things. There was a lot of other temptation, but our baby shower is coming up in two weeks so I wanted to wait before buying more. I didn't even allow myself to look at the clothes, because we have so many hand-me-downs from wonderful, stylish mothers.

Well, this makes it sound like my life is all baby, all the time, and while it will be that way soon, I promise that isn't the case just yet. There's other stuff going on too.

Do you buy used stuff, or are you above all that? My favorite place to shop is amazon, but if I do actually have to leave the house, I am all about Ross Dress for Less (that's used stuff, right?). I also just ordered a bag to sell stuff back to Thred Up.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Internet abstinance

This is something I've been thinking about doing for awhile now. We all know that in 2014, it's impossible to make any sort of lifestyle change without a sweeping public declaration. Here it is.

I'm done reading internet articles about the wild adventure I'm about to embark on.

I love the internet as much as anyone else. Maybe more. It's been a fabulous time waster on my summer break, and I fully plan to continue liking cute baby pictures, reading the 47 things kids from the 90s miss, and snarking on ridiculous blogs about how CrossFit is better than chocolate, sex, babies, wine, and anything else desirable on this planet, and recipes for kale tacos (I'm not even making that up).

I'm giving up a very specific type of internet-ing. Like all mothers-to-be, I'm curious, in a morbidly fascinated terrified way, about what's coming down the pike. Knowledge is power.

Obviously, there's no shortage of information. In my mom's day, aside from the doctor, you were pretty much relying on what your friends told you. In my case, that in itself is frightening enough. But now I have the option of reading birth stories morning to night, seeing photographs, videos, and the icing on the cake is websites like Baby center, What to Expect and WebMD, etc., to inform me of every possible thing that could or has ever gone wrong, ever.

Then there's the "humorous" side. I don't know if Facebook secretly put me on some "scary" newsfeed track or what. Every day there's more links.
  • "How Labor and Delivery is worse than anything Ramsay Snow ever did to Theon"
  • "349 reasons caring for a newborn is worse than time in a Korean prison camp"
  • "Why having kids is the worst idea ever and should be avoided at all costs"
  • "9 ways kids are dicks" - that one is actually real
I get it, these things are hard. I know I don't actually get it, because if there's one thing everyone seems to agree on, it's that you can't truly fathom what it's like until you do it. But on an intellectual level, I think I get it as much as possible. I don't think reading 200 more scary mommy articles is necessary to drive that point home. Probably, all these posts are hilarious after the fact. I'll get back to you on that.

My guess is that, like most people, I decided I wanted a baby based on a romanticized, idealized view of motherhood. I'm no scientist, but I strongly feel that's a key factor in the continuation of the human race. All this reading is destroying that romanticized view, and I don't really think I want that. I'm taking the newborn care class (we start tomorrow!), I'm reading the books, but aside from that I want to spend the next 9 weeks getting teary eyed daydreaming about playing "this little piggy" with the foot that's currently kicking inside my belly. Instead, all this internet noise is making me dread it.

The other thing is, there's a huge menu of things that can go wrong all along the way. Pregnancy, delivery, breastfeeding, infancy.... they all have tons of risks. And now I'm learning all about all of them, including quite a few I'd never even heard of. I'm prone to quickly descend down the rabbit hole of the worst case scenario anxiety, so this is not good for me. Whatever does go wrong, I'll deal with, obviously, because what other option is there?

With my due date being two months from today (side note OMG), I think it's safe to say I'm out of time for medical science to suddenly develop a fantastic, pain/blood free way of magically transporting your baby from your womb to your loving arms. That means that as much as labor and delivery might suck, there's no way around it, because he has to come out. I'm comfortable with maintaining my state of utter denial until then. Although we begin childbirth classes at the hospital next week, so that may shatter my denial plan.

What's your favorite/least favorite thing about the internet? Do you have anything you specifically avoid?

PS I know I always use Theon/Ramsay as an example, but there's just no better torture scenes I'm aware of. And I'm not posting a gif because it's torturous enough to watch the first time, in my opinion. Also gifs are right up there on my least favorite list right about now, I'm so sick of them.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Filling my chart with gold stars

Even though I've been teaching for a while, this is the first summer I've ever taken off (no summer school, no second job, etc). I had a loose list of things I wanted to accomplish in all my free time. They are probably things that normal people do year round and don't really consider "accomplishments". However, you need to keep in mind that I'm far less motivated and far more lazy than most people.

1. I cleaned out my closet/dresser.

I'm terrible at keeping ugly skirts that I haven't worn in three years "just in case". It's even worse now because I don't fit into anything so that gives me even more reason to save everything "just in case". I also obviously have to save ever race shirt from every race EVER because it's not like there's any sort of internet record of that sort of thing. But I managed to bitch slap my inner hoarder and fill three trash bags. I would have taken a picture, but I'm sure we can all picture that. Actually, it was only yesterday so obviously they are still there and it's still an option. I'll do it if the people demand.

2. I started another baby book (Happiest Baby on the Block).

My baby will look just that happy, but with a much darker complexion.

I'm not sure if this counts because I didn't technically finish the previous one. That one is about breastfeeding. Even though I didn't finish it, I think I managed to weed through the many reasons why getting an epidural will make my child hate me and end up in prison and otherwise ruin my life and pull out what seemed like useful breastfeeding information. There's other chapters on solid foods and weaning immediately prior to kindergarten but I own the book so I'll get to those when the time comes.

3. I did some legit cooking.

One of my favorite things about summer is the chance to actually take time and try out new recipes, as opposed to the school year when dinner is more about "what can I get into my mouth within 30 seconds or less after walking in the door to avoid killing someone with hangry rage". Tonight, I made these amazing Baja fish tacos that I highly recommend (although they are messy and photograph horribly).

What I've really been craving is a good, old fashioned fruity pie. I asked Eric what kind he wanted and he said apple. I don't know it was the hormones or what but I almost left him. I mean, WTF. It's July. You eat berry pie in summer. You eat apple pie at Thanksgiving. Do I have to explain everything?

Once we were able to move past that, we settled on blueberry or blackberry. The recipe I found called for two pounds of berries, and blackberries were being sold in plastic containers with approximately 7 berries for $3.99 at Wegmans.

I found a recipe for butter pie crust, which perfectly fit my qualifications of "things already in my home". I have a lot of fancy kitchen gadgets, and I truly love them all. Yet for some reason, as much as I love dessert, I lack some basic pie cooking requirements. Mainly, a rolling pin, and whatever people use to mix pie crust without their hands warming it up (my research tells me the key to a good crust is ice cold ingredients).

I found this little trick in the comments on, and it was life changing so I thought I would share it. You freeze the stick of butter, then grate it, then freeze the grated pieces.

Looks like cheese right? BUT IT'S BUTTER
Then turn it into delicious pie.

For some reason I desperately wanted a lattice top.

I'd say it was a roaring success.

4. I posted my first #transformationtuesday

Except now I sort of regret it because I feel like I jinxed myself to still have a baby bump at 41 weeks. But I even changed out of my pajamas for it and everything!

5. Paint the nursery

Technically it hasn't begun yet, but it's ready.

Also if you really want to get technical, I had nothing to do with clearing out the room, preparing to paint, and I'll continue that trend with the actual painting. I can thank Eric for all that. But I'm creating the child who will live in there, and I was smart enough to choose a motivated and handy and strong baby daddy, so I decided to include it on this list of personal accomplishments.

So for all those keeping track at home, that's FOUR gold stars. I also went to work today, did a kickboxing class, and paid hard earned money to sign up for a test I have to take to continue to be allowed to take even though I just finished a master's degree. All in all, I feel I can safely say I wasn't a drain on society this week.

What do you deserve a gold star for today? Feel free to list as many as you want! And don't forget that you are beautiful!


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Pregnancy contradictions

I'm not a huge fan of spontaneity. If it's Tuesday and we have plans to meet up with friends over the weekend, I need to know exactly who's coming, what time, and where we're going. Immediately.

I'm slowly learning that with pregnancy, you have to take it day by day. Just when I think "ok, this is how things are now", the next day is totally different. Probably that's the case once the baby arrives too, aka forever, but one thing at a time.

Example 1: Running

Friday, I was psyched up for a good run. I hopped on the treadmill, and hopped right back off after 6 minutes. All sorts of weird aches and pains were happening, and I'm not a sadist. I went to the gym and did the elliptical instead.

Saturday, for some inexplicable reason, I tried again. Probably because I felt like watching Netflix and the gym doesn't have WiFi. This time, I had a great run.

FYI, a "great run" at 30 weeks pregnant means no new and fun problems aside from the normal discomfort, no Braxton Hicks, only one bathroom break, and no extra walk breaks in addition to the planned intervals. It's probably what I would refer to as "abysmal" normally, but it's all relative.

I go into runs now with the idea that if it happens today, great, if not, I can walk or do something else.

Example 2: Eating

People say "you're eating for two", which I fully endorse when convenient, but I often feel like I'm eating for 1/2. In reality, it's probably just the volume a normal person eats while not training for a marathon. But my appetite is all over the place and completely unpredictable.

We went out for burgers and fries our first night in the Poconos. My burger and fries lasted me THREE separate meals (just a regular sized burger, fyi). One night I legit had less than a quarter of the burger and maybe 15-20 fries for dinner and was Thanksgiving - level stuffed. Like I couldn't sleep four hours later because I was so full. And it wasn't like I was coming off a huge lunch, all I'd eaten then was a Wawa soft pretzel. I'm competing for the healthiest pregnancy diet award, and TOTALLY winning.

Sunday, we went out for brunch with friends. I had the "Trifecta" - two eggs, one sausage link (lame, right? They could have given me two) and a Belgian waffle. I cleaned my plate, plus I'd had a banana right before we left for the diner. I consider that a fairly big meal, and yet when I got home like 2 hours later, I was starving. As in, stomach audibly grumbling, thinking about even salad was making my mouth water (I didn't have one though, I had more fried green tomatoes and pimento cheese).

My highly educated guess is sometimes the baby decides to crush my stomach and sometimes he doesn't.

Example 3: Peeing

I've always had a crazy small bladder and shocked people with my ability to constantly search for a bathroom. But I've held on surprisingly well during the many, many road trips I've taken so far this month. I can do a 6 hour trip with maybe only 2 stops. But then I had to take three bathroom breaks yesterday while cooking dinner. The body is a mystery.

Example 4: Sleep

My books, apps, and friends were all clear that the first trimester would be insanely tiring, and I'd want to sleep all the time. Except I never felt that way. I wouldn't say I had boundless energy, and suddenly being disgusted by coffee took a toll, but overall I felt pretty much like I normally do. I did get hit with some insomnia, but on the bright side, I got a ton of extra reading done.

Immediately after I entered the third tri, being awake suddenly became exhausting. The mere act of waking up and having breakfast seemed to call for a nap. No matter how much sleep I get, I never feel rested. It might have to do with the fact that it's summer. I mean, the couch is right there after lunch, and I no pressing appointments, so why not nap? Regardless, once the upcoming school year begins I have a feeling I'm in for a rude awakening.

Example 5: Baby movement

Yesterday he was quiet all day and I barely felt anything. Today he's back to pushing, kicking, rib jabbing, hiccupping, and all sorts of crazy acrobatics from what I can tell. All my baby apps say to count movements, but my doctor emphatically told me not to unless I wanted to drive myself crazy. I have numerous other ways to do that so I decided to follow her advice. Supposedly fetuses are just like people and have more active and more tired days like we do. Crazy.

Example 6: Emotions

I haven't really had any epic sob fests over commercials or anything. I'm pretty emotional in general, and it's not abnormal for me to cry over a sitcom or other similar minor event. I'd really have to lose my mind over something not remotely sad to approach the realm of "unusual" in terms of emotional reactions. I'll admit to fits of anger, but those are easier to keep a secret.

The contradiction here is just how fast my feelings about what's next can vacillate. One second, I have kid on Christmas morning excitement over meeting my baby, and getting to see what he looks like, and holding him, etc., etc. The next - complete and utter panic over the fact that I'm about to have an infant's life in my hands. Not to mention the fact that the universe is trusting me to raise a child. Or that I'll never sleep again. Or a million other things. What exactly am I getting myself into here?

 Do you like spontaneity, or are you a psycho planner like me?

A new #fitfetus workout

Yesterday I went grocery shopping for the first time this month. For the first 17 days of July, I spent a whole 3 of them in my own state. It was all super fun, but I'm excited to spend a few days out of the car now.

After my grocery store trip, I finally cashed in on my free Starbucks birthday drink. Starbucks is probably the one thing I've had an aversion to so far. I got this amazing magic mug for Christmas that was good for any drink FREE every day in the month of January. I normally only buy black coffee from Starbucks, but obviously that wasn't getting the best bang for my gift. I kept my homemade black coffee regiment each morning, but as part of my New Year's Resolution, I committed myself to 31 days of sugar bomb, $5+, espresso filled deliciousness each night for/with dessert.

Halfway through the month I found out I was pregnant, but I was able to keep going with my resolution until the 28th (I'd been getting decaf all along so calm down). Then my coffee aversion kicked in hard core. It went away slowly in the second trimester, THANK GOD, but I definitely overdid it on Starbucks because the thought of a caramel macchiato was still turning my stomach in July.

However, I am devoted to overcoming any obstacle to get something for free. I had a month after my birthday to cash in, so after a month exactly, I stopped on my way home from the grocery store yesterday for this beauty.

FYI - I took this while parked outside Starbucks.
I feel really guilty ordering Frappuccinos because everyone I ever barista-d with hated making them so much, myself included, but whatever it's once a year. I wasn't hungry so I drove home and planned to put it in the freezer for dessert.

That worked until I opened the freezer to put away some of my groceries.

A really fun 7.5 month pregnancy activity is cleaning up thick, cookie filled liquid, especially from under the fridge. Also especially because I'm trying to love the earth and don't use paper towels anymore, I just use actual towels, but I didn't want to permanently destroy all those. If I was still on Daily Mile I would have entered it as a workout (especially since it was right after three trips up our three flights of stairs to bring up all the groceries). I'm going to recommend it to What to Expect.

By the way, I quit Daily Mile again. My workouts are really nothing inspiring or noteworthy these days. Actually they haven't been for a while, but they are only going to continue to decline. Maybe I'll join again post partum.

I cheered myself up from that debacle my making the most amazing dinner ever. Fried green tomato grilled cheese sandwich.

Frying is a great way to make vegetables taste better.

The recipe calls for Pimento cheese, which apparently they don't sell at my Wegmans even though it's below the Mason Dixon line, so I made my own. Fried green tomatoes and homemade pimento cheese are probably my two most favorite things ever currently. Basically all my friends who have recently had babies have had to eliminate dairy, so I'm trying to double down while I can., just in case.

In other thrilling food news, these are finally on sale so I was finally able to enjoy some.

 I occasionally eat foods that are not fried or cheese.
I don't really have any other exciting stories from the weekend, because I was overdue for a nice break from going places and seeing people. Here's some stuff that happened.
  • We finally got to the second season of Orange is the New Black.
  • I started reading The Happiest Baby on the Block for educational purposes, and A Grown Up Kind of Pretty for entertainment.
  • I did some non Daily Mile worthy exercise.
  • My back started hurting at night, so I added two more pillows to my sleep fortress, bringing the total from four to six. That includes the Snoogle, which is really more like 3 pillows by itself. There's really not much room for my husband anymore, but each and every one of those pillows is necessary. I also now take a water bottle instead of a glass to bed, so I can keep it next to me and don't have to roll over to get a drink.

If you get knocked up, get one of these immediately.

What's your favorite fried food (obviously fries don't count)? I'd probably go with mozzarella sticks, because it's fried food + cheese, an ideal combination.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Biggest threat to America

This has been a pretty big week in my life. First of all, Monday morning I handed in my final grad assignment for grad school and applied for graduation. I've been waiting four years for this moment (I theoretically could have taken less time but then my school district wouldn't have paid for it).

Second, today is our six year wedding anniversary!

I'll spare you the six reasons we are a perfect couple or my priceless advice on marriage after a whole SIX YEARS. Personally, considering marriage is a lifetime adventure, I feel the only people qualified to give advice have to be like maybe 30 years in or so.

Instead of gifts, we take a little baby mini vacation each year to celebrate (or at least we have so far... that could change soon). This year, I really wanted to go somewhere that was close and relaxing for a low key getaway/Babymoon, although my husband does not approve of that term. We rented a cabin in the Poconos.

Obviously, we used this opportunity to focus on activities that were not child friendly and exclusively fun for adults.

Roasting marshmallows (should have made s'mores, but there were a lot of good ice cream places around)
A giant maze
Mini-golf. One of us got a hole in one. One of us didn't. One of us owns their own golf clubs. One of us doesn't ever golf.
At least we can anticipate not mourning our old, mature adult life in the future.

We also did some hiking. However, we made a grave mistake. Two years ago, we went to the Smoky Mountains for our anniversary. The Smokies compared to the Poconos is kind of like the time we first went to Vegas, then later went to Atlantic City. It sets the bar a little too high.

The Smoky Mountains:



The Poconos:


Ok, they're both pretty, so let's look at some other comparisons.

Our first day in the Poconos, we went to Bushkill Falls to do a hike, on the recommendation of a local. When we arrived, we found out they charge you to hike the trails?! I'd never heard of such a thing. So we played in that maze (it took us ten minutes to find our way out - if we could have done it in 9 we would have earned a sticker) and left. We found a trail on our own, and it was free, dammit.

We quickly discovered why.

It appears that the entire trail was a fire road? At least that's all we saw.

The steep hill was also not what I'd expect from a mountain trail. I'm definitely not some crazy wilderness snob, but I've done a few trail runs in my day. We were just sort of hoping the trails would be, you know, trails. Like with dirt and stuff. Maybe you hear birds instead of traffic. Something like that.

Here's the Appalachian trail we hiked in the Smoky Mountains.


You see what I mean. A few challenges. Since that was a bit of a bust, the next day we decided to pay the fee to see Bushkill Falls. There were four options of trails, the longest claiming to be two miles. There were excessive warnings that it was for EXPERIENCED HIKERS ONLY.

Apparently when you pay to hike, they don't have cheap ass blazes on trees, they have colored squares nailed to trees. These are what you follow to make sure you aren't off course. We were very relieved for them. As you can see in the below pictures, it would be pretty easy to wander off the "trail".

SO CONFUSING. Which is the trail??
Eric did go rogue at one point.
There were also benches to rest on approximately every tenth of a mile. I'm not even kidding.

Bushkill Falls touts itself as "The Niagara of Pennsylvania". There were a bunch of waterfalls which were really pretty. I don't even know how many because you go up and down and see them from the top and the bottom and all different angels so I completely lost track of which was which.


The main falls

Another falls, no clue which one.

I just thought the way the light hit the water was cool here.
The Smokies only had one waterfall, although you could actually get in and swim up to it, which was pretty cool.
Another strange thing was that the red trail (the "hard" one) would frequently go in two different directions. Every other woods experience I've had, aside from the PHUNT 50k of course, would call one direction a different color trail. To see everything, you had to frequently double back, take other trails, and repeat sections, so it was definitely way more than two miles.

After awhile, we finally got to the hardcore section - no more wooden walkways or handrails, although the benches still continued.

"For hikers only"
We preserved and managed to see all the falls. Although Eric didn't count it as a workout, I was pretty exhausted by the end. Maybe I wouldn't have if I were a real #mamalete, but there were a ton of climbs and stairs and it was hard. I guess it was probably for the best that the Bushkill Falls trails weren't the most challenging. Plus, it was significantly cooler in Pennsylvania than Tennessee in July, which was a major bonus.

While the hiking was fun, the relaxing was my ultimate goal. Our cabin had a nice front porch, and I spent every morning living the dream.

Coffee, kindle, not 100% humidity, and peace and quiet.
When we first arrived, we mocked this sign at the entrance to the little villa of cabins.

Biggest threat to America.

As we were pulling out of the parking lot to do our hike, Eric suddenly yelled and I turned and saw a freaking BEAR like two feet from where I'd just been sitting on our porch.

We couldn't get our camera out in time, but here's Eric reenacting based on where the paw prints were

The best picture we could get - still pretty close (no zoom!)

That was pretty exciting.

Overall, although we scoffed a bit at the trails, we had a great time and enjoyed the trip. I'd recommend it, although I would warn anyone that we got barely any cell reception the whole time, and the place we stayed charged for wireless. If you want to go with your spouse, be prepared that talking and interacting with him will be your only entertainment the entire time.

It was pretty surreal to think that this is our last trip/anniversary as a twosome. We kept pointing out child friendly activities and talking about coming back to do them one day. It's really sinking in that we will be a family of 3 very, very soon!

Do you like hiking? On vacation? Normally I prefer trips that involve pool chairs and drinks with umbrellas, but without the drinks, hiking is a top choice.

Monday, July 14, 2014

I hate home

After returning Wednesday night from a week long visit to New York for my sister's wedding, 2 full days at home was clearly more than enough.

On one of those days, we transformed the guest room from this....

Who knew babies need SO MUCH STUFF?
to this.

It now has only a bed and baby stuff.

Technically Eric did all the hard work, but I did some cleaning and provided emotional support. I'm not sure we can quite call it a "nursery" yet, but it's one step closer.

Friday night, Kara came up to Baltimore for a sleepover. Despite an excessive amount of hair braiding and naked pillow fighting, we still managed to get up at the crack of dawn on Saturday, and begin an epic road trip to Connecticut. Our third blogging musketeer Kari had her adorable baby boy two months ago and we were overdue for some baby time.

Kara was in charge of photography and this is what I got.
We had to do two takes to get a proper picture. The first one made us look like total fatties.

Plus those jerks didn't even tell me I was supposed to wear pink, so I just stayed in my pajamas.
We had a redo in the correct blogger poses.

 So much skinnier. Especially me.
I'm really working on my new mother karma. I spent many years without baby fever, tuning out diaper talks, and showing up empty handed to friends houses to half heartedly compliment their babies. Now I'm trying to make up for many horrible faux pas and at least provide food to new parents. I made lasagna for Kari and Mike and hopefully earned extra points by picking the basil for the homemade sauce myself from my mom's backyard. If I was really a good friend I would have made the sauce and cheese and noodles, but I'm not.

It does not get more local.

Everything in Connecticut is super fancy. They don't even allow fast food. Once we arrived Saturday afternoon, we got some fancy gourmet sandwiches and ate them in the perfect weather overlooking the beautiful beach.

The rest of the day was spent soaking in baby time and traumatizing me with birth/post-partum stories. Actually, that continued on Sunday too. We had a wild Saturday night around the fire pit with drinks (I had grapefruit juice with lime).

We got back on the road Sunday at noon, which meant we spent nearly a full 24 hours visiting. Then we began the torture of the drive back home. I have a lot of friends and family in various places, and go on more road trips than the average bear. I rarely complain about them. However, this one is a special one.

Theoretically, the drive is under five hours. However, looking at the map should show at least my East Coast readers a huge problem.

Basically anyway you slice it, you are going by the Big Apple, and even worse, spending significant time on the Jersey turnpike. Driving on the Jersey turnpike and/or near NYC is an experience that ranges from terrible to at the mercy of Ramsay Snow.

The Jersey turnpike. Lots of sitting at a standstill for no apparent reason.
Luckily Kara drove the whole way, and it only took about 6.5 hours for me to get home, which is probably one of the shortest return trips from Kari's I've made.

Long ago, it was tough to eat healthy on road trips, but now, tons of nutritious options exist. I didn't choose any of them, but they were there.

Mac and cheese and chips
Just kidding, I also had a diet coke, so totally healthy. I was exhausted from sitting all day when I got home so I had cereal for dinner.

Tomorrow, Eric and I are leaving again for an anniversary trip, and what I like to call our baby moon (he hates that phrase). Just a few quiet days in the Poconos, so nothing crazy.

Ok, I know that it is completely impossible for the baby to like.... punch a hole through my uterus and then tear right through my skin. I mean obviously that's ridiculous. But sometimes it really feels like he is trying to escape that way.

Feeling him move all the time is wonderful, I'm just saying that sometimes the amount of force can freak me out a bit. Is this normal or was Eric's dream that we had an abnormally strong baby based on reality?

Another exciting development is that he can now reach my ribs, I think. He's been reaching closer and closer the past few days. I've always heard people say "the baby is kicking me in the ribs" and wondered what the heck that felt like. Now I'm fairly sure I know.

What's your favorite road trip food?